An abused Florida teen, a Philadelphia connection

Date: 2009-02-19
Two are arrested in "barbar- ic" imprisonment of the boy, whose late stepfather was a Phila. Orchestra clarinetist.

By Christine Armario

SPRING HILL, Fla. - For three years, neighbors scarcely saw the lanky 16-year-old boy who lived with his adoptive mother - widow of a prominent member of the Philadelphia Orchestra - and her boyfriend.
Now they know why: Authorities say the teen was brutally abused and held captive at home. Most recently, he'd been locked in a bathroom, its window sealed with plywood.

By the time he escaped last week, he had a broken forearm and scars, scabs, and oozing wounds that investigators say mark years of abuse.

Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent called it "barbaric."

Tai-Ling Gigliotti, 50, and Anton Angelo, 45, were arrested last week and charged with aggravated child abuse and false imprisonment. Gigliotti was released on a $15,000 bond. Her attorney did not reply to messages; no one answered the door at her home. Angelo, released on a $50,000 bond, declined to comment.

Authorities piecing together the boy's history believe Gigliotti is his aunt, and brought him to the United States from Taiwan as a child.

The teen, whose name was not released because he is an alleged victim of child abuse, told investigators his stepfather was Anthony Gigliotti, who was the Philadelphia Orchestra's principal clarinetist for 47 years. Gigliotti died at age 79 in 2001, before the abuse is thought to have begun.

Tai-Ling Gigliotti had met her late husband when she studied clarinet with him, said Charles Salinger, another former student who is now a clarinetist with the Pennsylvania Ballet orchestra. She attended Temple University's college of music, where Anthony Gigliotti taught, but, according to a spokesman, was enrolled for only one semester, in 1984.

"I think she just was the adoring student and probably fawned all over him," said Lynne Gigliotti, his daughter from his first marriage.

The two married about 1990, and Anthony Gigliotti treated the boy like a son, Lynne Gigliotti said; they would go fishing and crabbing together, and the stepfather taught the youngster about music.

"My father was crazy about him," she said.

His son Mark Gigliotti, a bassoonist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, said this week in an e-mail mesage: "My father brought the boy to the U.S. to give him a better life . . .. He loved [him], and would have done anything for him."

The clarinetist was planning to adopt the boy when he became terminally ill, Lynne Gigliotti said.

She says she hopes someone else in the family can now fullfill that wish: "I am positive one of us will try to get custody of him. He needs a family that loves him and he needs to stay connected to my father's memory."

Anthony Gigliotti's family said Tai-Ling could be controlling and rude: When he fell ill, she didn't let his family visit or speak with him on the phone until he'd taken a turn for the worse. Lynne Gigliotti said he told her he had stopped Tai-Ling from striking the boy a few times.

"He acted very reserved when he was around her," Lynne Gigliotti said of the boy. "And when you would get him away from her, he acted like a little boy."

About the time Anthony Gigliotti died, his wife and Angelo began living together. Neighbors said they moved into the Spring Hill house, north of Tampa, about four years ago.

From the outside, things seemed tranquil. Gigliotti and Angelo ran separate music businesses; she chatted with neighbors and worked on her garden. But the boy didn't seem to be around much in recent years and reportedly stopped going to school a year ago.

According to an arrest affidavit, the abuse began at least three years ago, when the boy was forced to sleep in a hallway. In last 2007 daily confinement in a bathroom began. Nugent said the boy believed the abuse was his fault for minor problems like a messy room; he was told he'd be deported if he escaped.

Last week the abuse escalated, police said, when Gigliotti and Angelo discovered that he had found a way to open a barricaded window and free himself with a piece of his clarinet.

He was forced to strip, and Gigliotti beat him with a piece of wood about three feet long, police said, then with the metal and plastic ends of a water hose; he was left bound and naked in the dark bathroom. "I think at that point he just became absolutely fearful for his life," Nugent said.

When the couple left the next day, the 111-pound boy managed to break the door frame and free himself, Nugent said. He dressed and ran to a neighbor, and was taken to a local hospital where he was found to have a broken arm and oozing wounds as well as older scabs and scars.

The state has placed the boy with a foster family.

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